March 31, 2017 - Rokita Report

Mar 31, 2017

Dear Friend,

Thank you for the opportunity to update you on the work of the 115th Congress.  I trust this finds you and your family well, as we work together to bring Hoosier common sense to Washington.

For daily updates, please take a moment to "Like" my Facebook page by clicking here  or follow me on Twitter if you prefer  @ToddRokita.


In this week's Rokita Report

  • President Trump Signs My Education CRA
  • Hearing On My Bill Against NLRB Overreach
  • Hoosier Hospitality Helping Those With Angelman
  • Rokita Reading


President Trump Signs My Education CRA

On Monday, we scored a major Red Tape Rollback victory when President Trump signed into law my resolution to rescind the Obama administration’s final regulation implementing accountability provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

This Obama-era accountability rule disregarded Congressional intent and would have taken authority away from local school corporations and given it back to Washington.  On November 29, 2016, the Department of Education released its final regulations on accountability, state plans, and report cards under ESSA, which said states must fulfill new requirements not included in the law.  The law signed by the President this week undoes that rule, making sure that local education leaders have the ability and flexibility to craft plans for their schools that address the unique needs of their students.

The previous Washington-knows-best approach to education has officially ended, and I am proud of our work here to ensure that our nation’s education system is working for students, not federal bureaucrats.

I introduced this resolution because I was a coauthor of ESSAand knew what the real Congressional intent was.  The resolution passed the House on February 7 by a vote of 234 to 190.  The resolution also passed the Senate on March 9 by a vote of 50 to 49.


Hearing On My Bill Against NLRB Overreach

This week, the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on legislation that I introduced, H.R. 986, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act.  This bill would protect Native American sovereignty by preventing the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from asserting jurisdiction over tribal businesses operated on tribal land.

The NLRB does not regulate local, state, or federal governments and agencies and did not regulate tribal employees until 2004.  In 2004, the board reversed precedent and decided to subject tribal governments to a subjective test in deciding when and where to assert its jurisdiction.  The agency did so without applying this test to local, state, or federal governments.  This bill is about fairness and stopping federal overreach.

Be sure to watch video of my remarks from the hearing.

Last Congress, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act passed the House with bipartisan support.  This Congress, the bill has already garnered 3 Democratic cosponsors.  I look forward to taking this momentum into getting this bill signed into law this Congress.


Hoosier Hospitality Helping Those With Angelman

Hoosier Hospitality is an amazing thing.  Recently, I met three Hoosiers who are the embodiment of our state's values.  Paul Avgerinos, Christy Darst, and Lara Dodge are part of Team Born 2 Rickshaw Run.  They traveled from Indiana to India and are currently participating in the Rickshaw Run.

The Rickshaw Run is a two week long race in India.  Participants travel nearly 2,000 miles using nothing but a rickshaw, a three-wheeled road vehicle with 5 horsepower.  Participants often partake in the challenge to raise money for a charitable cause and Team Born 2 Rickshaw Run picked one dear to the Rokita family, the Angelman Syndrome Foundation (ASF).

ASF is one of the leading organizations for support and research of Angelman Syndrome.  Angelman Syndrome is a rare neuro-genetic disorder that afflicts about 15,000 births.  One of those is my son Teddy.  After Teddy was diagnosed in 2010, Kathy and I became active in the Angelman community.  Kathy now serves on the board of the Angelman Syndrome Foundation as Treasurer.  What struck us most about Team Born 2 Rickshaw Run was that they discovered Angelman on their own.  Kathy and I could not thank them enough for what they are doing for everyone with Angelman Syndrome.

Kathy and I were able to wish the best of luck to Lara, Christy, and Paul at a pre-race event at the Broken Beaker Distillery for Team Born 2 Rickshaw Run.     


Rokita Reading 
A clickable offering of books and articles that I've read recently and highly recommend, as we strive together to "Keep the Republic."

Recently Purdue University announced that for the sixth straight year, the school will not be raising tuition for students.  Purdue was able to do so, as most colleges are raising tuition annually at above the rate of inflation.  Purdue's story is one that I will keep in mind as I work with my House Education & Workforce Subcommittee colleagues on legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.  In examining this issue, I read the article How to Beat the High Cost of Learning by Richard Vedder of the American Enterprise Institution.  Vedder states that "the way to address rising college costs is to rethink the entire government student-loan system."

He provides the data that college costs are rising at a historical rate.  From 1840 to 1978, when federal aid was nonexistent or modest, tuition rose by about 1% when adjusted for inflation.  In 1978, President Jimmy Carter expanded existing college loan and grant programs and since then tuition has risen 3% a year.  Had college costs risen at the previous rate, tuition today would be half of what it is.

What we have today is a massive, incredibly complex government system of grants and loans through multiple programs with little accountability for the academic performance of students or schools.  As Vedder points out Washington has shown little fiscal discipline when it expands its role in any arena.  This is information that I will keep in mind as I consider legislation on improving our universities.


Thank you for your continued interest in Congress and for supporting my efforts to bring Hoosier common sense to Washington. Take care.  


Todd Rokita